June 27, 2021

Canada Shatters All-Time Temperature Record; Same Records Fall In Seattle And Portland


Canada's all-time high temperature record fell on Sunday. The previous record high of 45°C, set in Saskatchewan in July 1937, shattered in style on Sunday afternoon when the observing station in Lytton, British Columbia, spiked to 115.9°F, or 46.6°C to be Canadianly correct. It's possible that the record could be broken or matched again on Monday, and maybe even again on Tuesday. Whew.
The superlatives-aren't-enough-to-describe-it heat wave roasting the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada is an event that meteorology students will use as a case study for generations to come. It's just not supposed to get this hot in this part of the world.

An extreme ridge of high pressure, combined with downsloping winds limiting the marine layer to the immediate coastline, are pushing temperatures to levels we've never reliably recorded before.

The National Weather Service's forecast for the airport in Portland, Oregon, on June 27, 2021.

The official reporting station at the airport in Portland, Oregon, saw a high temperature of 108°F on Saturday, breaking the city's all-time high temperature record. Portland broke the record again on Sunday with a preliminary high temperature of 112°F.

It's likely that Portland will break the all-time record for a third day in a row on Monday, with a predicted high of 115°F, a breathtaking forecast that's only two degrees lower than the hottest temperature ever measured in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The National Weather Service's forecast for the airport in Seattle, Washington, on June 27, 2021.

Seattle, Washington, had only recorded three days with a high temperature of 100°F or hotter until this event. Saturday's high of 102°F made the fourth, Sunday's all-time hottest high of 104°F made for five, and they're on track to see their sixth—an unbelievable predicted high of 110°F—on Monday afternoon, doubling their total number of triple-digit heat days in just one long weekend.

Many other communities not named Portland and Seattle broke their all-time high temperature records, as well, including Olympia WA (105°F), Port Angeles WA (97°F), Salem OR (112°F), and Eugene OR (110°F).

And then there's British Columbia.

Canada just doesn't get that hot. It's far to the north, sure, but its wintry image for those of us south of the border masks the true diversity of the country's climates and scenery. It gets hot on the Prairies, supremely gross and sticky in southern Ontario, and it can pretty darn hot in the valleys of southern British Columbia. You can easily see those valleys on the map at the top of this post, lacing through British Columbia like white hot veins.

Lytton, located about a hundred miles northeast of Vancouver, is one of those communities that's situated at the bottom of a valley, the perfect spot to feel the burn of a record-setting heat wave. There are a couple of similarly situated communities that could easily match or topple this newfound record in the coming days, including Abbotsford (southeast of Vancouver), Osoyoos (near the Washington border in south-central B.C.), and Kamloops (about 60 miles northeast of Lytton).

This is a public health emergency for the affected areas. Lots and lots of people are going to fall ill or even die because they can't properly cool off from day after day of record-smashing temperatures. Many homes in this part of the country do not have air conditioning, and residents are certainly not acclimated to desert-like heat. The flip-side comparison might be if Miami, Florida, were to fall below 0°F for three days straight, but even then, it's easier to warm up than it is to cool off.

The first day of winter is only 177 days away.


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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